First off, I would like to give thanks to Ed Milich of Ducpower.com/Guzzitech.com/Bimotacagiva.com, my dad-Mike Carmody, Cretins Motorcycle Club, LA 2 Wheel Social Club, Motorcyclist Magazine, the Alazzurra and Pantaheads Lists, Pirelli Tires, Jesse Pompilio and all my friends, for supporting my racing career. With out your support and help, I wouldn’t be racing.
Another 11 months of racing starts in January with the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club, and I was just getting used to my holiday vacation. It was mid December, and I had no idea what I was going to ride, and how I was going to afford the excitement of doing it all over again. It always seems to come together when you’re working with the high-strung multi tasking Ed Milich. So, I spent the holiday building a couple of rusty sitting bikes to sell and flip in order to get myself out of bill dept from the 2009 season. I picked up a long time sitting 1982 BMW R65 and brought her back to life while learning how to work on the ugly German machine. I finally got the title to the Honda CB 350 after months of CHP and DMV appointments. I cleaned her up and sold her with in days of posting on Craigslist. The sale happened within two weeks of the first race of the season when the rent was due, and couldn’t have happened at a better time. After a few beers and dinner appointment with Ed, we decided to pull out his 1990s Ducati 900ss (built by Mick Ohfield and also raced by Marion Ibarra) that has been sitting down at Guzzi Classics for several years. Ed pulled the bike out, cleaned the carbs, put back on some parts we had robbed from it in 2009 (Brembo Brakes), and got her fired up.
The Ducati 900ss is a real machine with all the modern jewels that I still haven’t had the pleasure to race on a track. Although I don’t know the complete history of the bike, I do know that it was much more modern bike than the Pantahs I raced in 2009. Equipped with modern adjustable suspension, ground clearance for the pipes, Marchesini wheels, dual front Brembo Brakes, 330 lbs weight, and 87 hp of V twin Ducati power.
I picked the bike up the Thursday night before Saturday practice day. I was so excited that I brought the bike to work. There I could stare at the faring’s canvas during brake time for my next “Rattle Can Rick” clean up. I made up some numbers and our new sponsor stickers, and then stopped by Osh to pick up some paint on my way home. The bike had some rough track rash on the right hand side; therefore some tape, masking, and point and shoot painting was in order before apply numbers and our new DUCPOWER.COM sponsor stickers. Jesse came over and helped get our gear organized for a Saturday morning load and departure. It is always nice when you can have a guy like Jesse to show up and do the dirty work while you can play with paint and stickers. After the paint was done; Jesse and I safety wired all the usual nuts and bolts and fixed the right foot peg with a little modern Cretin intuitive fabrication.
On Saturday morning, Jesse and I loaded up the Dodge and rolled up and over the mountains. We both conceded that it was nice to go racing again. Jesse had missed the last two months of the 2009 season; therefore, it meant a lot to him. He explained to me that by this time next year he would be rolling up with his own race bike, and that I’ll need to find another pit boy. So as we entered Willow Springs with the usual meet and greet from the old man and kid at the front gate with wrist bands and money exchange. We set up in a pit next to LA’s finest family of street fighters: Cretins Racers Fabrisio Mascioni and Eric Orr, Mark Duncan, Brian Hertfield, and Russ Stranger.
On my way back from hitting the head; I noticed this beautiful green and red Ducati F2, with a modern 750 ss motor, and had to walk over to take an observed glance. The rider was Richard Haas; A former Ducati sponsored rider whom had won at Daytona and raced Isle of Man in 1977. Richard and I had a fun dicey race against each other at Infineon Race Park a few years back with the AFM, and it was a pleasure to reunite with him. I offered him to pit with me since he was at the track alone, and so that I could pick his brain about his motorcycling history.
To my surprise, Russ Stranger had shown up to practice after breaking his collar bone just two months before when we both crashed in turn 5. The real surprise was the machine he had brought this year. It was his father’s pride piece of motorcycle history: the Honda RC 30. Even though I was very proud of the 900ss I had in my pit; the RC 30 was undoubtedly the most beautiful and expensive vintage machine at the track that weekend. I will admit that I was getting pretty intimated sitting there staring at the single sided swing arm, amazing paint, finely engineered body lines, suspension, and of course knowing it was equipped with a 750cc V four with 140 hp of Honda power.
After we got through tech and new tires on the bike; our first practice would come just after the lunch break. I took my first few laps very cautiously and slow. I quickly realized I had another issue to get used to. Since I had crashed and put a hole in my Vanson leather in November; I brought a pair of barely used tight and stiff Vintage Z leathers I had received from Motorcylist Magazine. […with big thanks to Brian Catterson] I actually didn’t like the white and red leather until I got the red 900ss, and then they seem to go with the flash of “Ducpower.” The seat height was a little too low, the front end dove hard when braking, and the track was cold. After a few laps, I pulled back into the pits and took the bike over to Cyclemall/Catalyst Reaction Suspension’s tech, Tige Danne. He set the sag, loosened the rear and tightened up the front. I added another layer of foam to the seat and relocated my transponder since it didn’t read during my 1st session. In our second practice, the bike was running smooth, and I was starting feel the bike and the track together as one. I was passed by a modern 600 four, but a few laps later I would manage to re-pass him. I even picked up the back tire breaking into turn one; which really surprised me. As I picked up the pace I noticed that the gearing was a tooth too tall since I was red lining too soon; especially when I tipped over in turn 7 reducing the radius of the rear tire. As I pulled back in the pits, I was happy as ever, and I had a huge smile on my face. The brakes were amazing, tire rubber grabbed well around turn two, engine power was strong, and handling was much better than anything I had ever ridden on a track. Although the track condition were not the greatest considering the cloud cover and cold temperature, I was thoroughly happy with the 900ss. Especially after pulling a 1:33.7 on my second time on the bike. After practice, we packed up and headed to our hotel were we would get ready for the 2009 Awards Banquette.
The banquet was held in a huge tent mounted in front of the Bud Tower around the top of the Omega. Everyone was cleaned up and great meal was provided. Eric and Jesse came along….mostly to indulge in a free meal. Brian, Russ and his father joined us at our table. The awards were presented in alphabetical order. I walked up and received my two awards, 2nd in Vintage Heavy Weight and a Championship in Vintage Light Weight. I felt completely put on the spot with no pre-planned speech. I tried to give my thanks to people off the top of my head and of course felt terrible when I forgot to mention a few people and organizations. One of the best parts of the night was watching Jeff Tigert roll up in his brand new Toyota truck with all the fancy features which he won along with the Formula 1 championship. It’s an inspiration to us all to see him win that truck because he’s an amazing rider, but more so cause Jeff is a great person. Everyone there was so proud of him and couldn’t think of a better person who deserved it more.
Sunday morning practice was cold and cloudy. I pulled in and did some practice starts. The first time I couldn’t keep the front tire off the ground. I popped two wheelies and then just had to ease the throttle. I pulled back into the hot pit for another go at a practice start and managed to pull out with only small lower rise of the front wheel. The second practice I went out after a quick discussion with Tige of Catalyst Reaction. I clicked two more in on the lower fork adjustment, set the tire pressure, and my leathers were finally loosing up.
Richard and I walked over to the riders meeting and soon were suiting up for race six. This year, they had combined several classes into now what is known as “Dinosaur”. There were about 15 riders girded up, and I was starting in the back row right behind Lloyd on a heavily modified built Ducati 750 F1. I looked to my right and Ernie, of Glendale Harley, was shaking head because he knew that his single cylinder Buell had no chance of beating me on the 900 since he was now forced to race in this combined class. Lloyd and I pulled right through the middle of the pack into the lead. He had a little over a bike lead going into turn one and I decided not to take inside line and push him out before he had the chance to slam the door on me. I then followed closely around turn two keeping a caution for the cold rear tire to slip. Lloyd pulled away a little through out the turn, and then I late breaked into turn three inches from his rear tire. I then followed around turn 5 and took a wide line coming to 6 so that I could have the inside for a pass before turn 7. The 900ss’s horsepower was impressive and strong. I pulled right by him and took his line before turn 7. Loyde was right on my ass going into the last turn before the straight. As we entered into turn one; I flipped the switch into full race mode. The Ducati was tracking well around turn 2 as I watched my RPMs. I persisted through the omega with late brakes and tight lines. I soon felt the relief of pressure some how subconsciously, started breathing again, and found a smooth line around the track. I still wasn’t sure how close the pack was behind me on the last lap and I felt some pressure in my mind to finish strong. When I crossed the finish line in first, I looked back for the competition as I exited turn one, but no one was there. I was told later that I had a full 9-second lead on the pack when I finished the race. As I we took our cool off lap back to the pits, Russ and Lloyd rolled up for a racer knuckle tap and a thumbs up. Russ would end up passing Lloyd just at the finish line taking second, and Mark Duncan would take a suprising 4th place. When I rode into my pit, I was congratulated by group of friends with smiles.
Photo by Sharna Lee Photography
Photo by Sharna Lee Photography
In race 9 there were several crashes happening around the track. Three racers crashed in turn three at the same time. Finally race 10 came and Eric, Mark, and Brian hit the track. There was a slight sprinkle in the air, and I was getting concerned about rain since I had registered to race in BOT middleweight, race 12, against the fierce Ducati 748s and 848s. Half way through race 10 Eric low sided in turn three one lap after another rider crashed in the same turn. Eric got up and was ok, but his bike was pretty battered. Eric sustained a bruised ankle and some pain under his left arm. Brian finished 2nd followed by Mark in 3rd. I know Eric was having a great race with Mark, and was pushing his worn out blistered rear tire until it finally gave way. Eric should be ok and be out next month. In race 11 the sprinkles started picking up and soon it was raining.
I expected to be in race 12, but as more riders crashed and the rain picked up. I decided with the rainy track conditions; that this wasn’t the day to step up to BOT middleweight and prove myself. It just wasn’t worth crashing my new bike; and besides, they carry over the race fee to next month.
It was truly great race weekend, and we finished in first place. I am getting super excited about the next few months. Ed and I are building a Super Pantah for Daytona in which I will run at Willow in February to shake down the bike. That’s right. I’m racing at the AHRMA Daytona event during bike week, and then pitting for Jeff Tigert during the pro race Wed through Friday. In February, WSMC is going to run at the Streets of Willow 1.5 mile course, which I have never ridden before. It should be a fun learning and experience. Before then, I have to pull the motor out of the 900ss to get the lower end checked out and put another “built to the hilt” 650 in the red Pantah.
Racing in the next few months is going to expensive; therefore, I need sponsors! The Cretins MC will be throwing me a Daytona Fund raiser the Thursday before I leave for Florida, February 25th.
I would also like to give a special thanks to Sharna Lee of "Photo by Sharna Lee Photography" for the awesome and amazing photos.
I will add her web site to my links.
Thank you again for your support.